Cycling in Hungary.

Pelotome –
around Hungary on a bicycle.

Wanderings: On Wheel and On Foot in Europe – Hugh Callan (1887).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

May 1885 – Published 1887.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From San Francisco to Teheran” was the first illustrated volume of 29 year old English immigrant Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe. The book covers the first half of the novice rider’s journey on his fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, with a handlebar bag containing socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as a tent and bedroll, and a pocket revolver.

Leaving California, on 22nd April, 1884, he became the first cyclist to cross the United States in the process, sailing from New York to Liverpool, and continuing his journey in May 1885 through Europe, arriving in Hungary – from Bratislava – at Altenburg (today Mosonmagyaróvár), and continuing on through Győr, and Gönyű, where his “route along the Danube Valley leads through broad, level wheat-fields that recall memories of the Sacramento Valley, California”, to Neszmély and Budapest, where he his “rather surprised at finding so much cycling enthusiasm in the Hungarian capital” and is joined by members of the Budapest Bicycle Club on his ride to Dunaújváros, where he enjoys a late night wine tour from “Mr. Ujvarii, whose private wine-cellar is celebrated all the country round.”

Accompanied by Svetozar Igali, “a noted cycle tourist” and “a genuine Magyar”, whose “only fault as a road companion is his utter lack of speed, six or eight kilometres an hour being his natural pace on average roads, besides footing it up the gentlest of gradients and over all rough stretches”, and the fact he “knows four languages : French, German, Hungarian, and Slavonian, but Anglaise nicht.” Stevens becomes “more and more convinced that he would be an invaluable companion to have accompany one around the world ; true, the journey would occupy a decade, or thereabout, but one would be morally certain of coming out safe and sound in the end.”

Together they ride to Szekszárd – which “has the reputation, hereabout, of producing the best quality of red wine in all Hungary — no small boast, by the way -” and “Igali’s native town,” Dunaszekcső, before crossing into modern day Croatia at Branjin Vrh (then still in Hungary), and Osijek – the capital of Slavonia – eventually parting ways in Belgrade, with Stevens continuing alone towards Iran,

  • By Thomas Stevens.
  • Published by Sampson, Lowe, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London.

July 1886 – Published October 1887.

Wanderings: On Wheel and On Foot in Europe.

Setting out from Glasgow on the 3rd July, 1886, to catch the steamer to Hamburg, Hugh Callan details his 1,500 mile, high-wheeler, 33 day journey “on wheel down Europe from the German ocean to the Aegean Sea”, entering Hungary – “indeed the land of variety,” – from Vienna, near Mosonmagyaróvár, and following the path of the Danube to Győr, Komárom, Esztergom, Budapest – “a marvellously fine city, and bids fair to out-rival many a greater, ” – Dunaföldvár, Baja, and Mohács, before crossing the border into Sclavonia (Croatia), and continuing onward to Athens, Greece.

The second part of the book is dedicated to his earlier July 1885 trip “on wheel up the Rhine Valley, from Amsterdam to Geneva, and back by Antwerp,” while Part Three follows his six week walking tour “‘on the tramp’ in Belgium and France,” in 1881.

  • By Hugh Callan.
  • Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London.

August 1891 – published in November 1893.

To Gipsyland.

The Pennells returned with an account of their summer ride in 1891, this time swapping their trusty tricycle for two safety bicycles (Elizabeth on a Marriott and Cooper’s Ladies’ Safety), in search of the Romani “gypsies” whose culture they had originally fallen in love with in their native Philadelphia.

The book, originally serialised a year earlier in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine (Nov 1892 – Jan 1893), picks up their ride into Hungary from Pressburg (Bratislava, then in Austria, but now Slovakia), to Raab (Győr), and Gran (Esztergom), where they struggled on the sandy roads and instead caught the boat down the Danube to Budapest, “the capital of Attila’s land.”

A more in depth account of their ride to Budapest, entitled From Berlin to Budapest”, appeared as a twelve part series in The London Illustrated News with the Hungarian section (published 27th August 1892).

Leaving Budapest on the train to Debrecen and Maramureș (now in Romania), they took advantage of the September sun, by continuing their ride in search of gypsies.

  • by Joseph and Elizabeth Rose Pennell.
  • Published by T. Fisher Unwin, London.


“Hungary is still practically a land of serfs and nobles, and nearly every peasant encountered along the road touches his cap respectfully, in instinctive acknowledgment, as it were, of his inferiority.

Long rows of women are seen hoeing in the fields with watchful overseers standing over them — a scene not unsuggestive of plantation life in the Southern States in the days of slavery.

If these gangs of women are not more than about two hundred yards from the road their inquisitiveness overcomes every other consideration, and dropping everything, the whole crowd comes helter-skelter across the field to obtain a closer view of the strange vehicle ; for it is only in the neighborhood of one or two of the principal cities of Hungary that one ever sees a bicycle.”

Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1887).

%d bloggers like this: